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Arrival in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. Welcome and assistance at the airport. After a short briefing, drive to Andasibe through the green and luxuriant vegetation of the east. This first step brings you to the humid part of the country with many primary forests and lakes. Along the way we will see Merina villages in the rocky mountains. Arrive at Andasibe around 18h00. Check-in to your ensuite bungalows, overlooking the forest. Later this evening at approximately 19h00 enjoy a night walk in the area of Andasibe to observe night active lemurs and other nocturnal animals.
A morning visit to the Special Reserve of Andasibe, to see the Indri Indri, the largest lemurs on the island. This 810 ha reserve is unique with its endemic fauna and flora. It contains a wide variety of orchids, canopy, and endemic animals like chameleons, tenrecs, and many birds. After the visit, walk through the orchid park to admire all the nice flowers. In the afternoon, visit Andasibe village, a typical Betsimisaraka (The-Many-inseparable) village, and the second largest tribe on the island. They cultivate rice and live mainly off the forest. This visit allows contact with the local people, to see how they live and what they eat.
Drive back to Tana, and head south to Antsirabe, across the highland landscape with its beautiful rice fields on stage. The spectacular eroded hills called ‘lavaka’ reminiscent of the Far East with its rice fields and green landscape with vegetables and fruit trees. A stop in Ambatolampy for a short visit of this huge agricultural city, which is also known as a source of aluminium. Arrival in Antsirabe around 17h00, or ‘the place of salt’, an elegant city well known as the centre of the beer industry, you can smell the Star Brewery as we enter the town! Founded by the Norwegians in 1856, it is the only place which really feels and looks like a European city. It has a temperate climate and all fruits and vegetable, which grow in cooler climates, are found in Antsirabe.
Antsirabe - Ranomafana National Park. After breakfast, we drive to Ambositra, the centre of Madagascar's wood carving industry. We are still in the highland, which is characterized by its architecture: The houses are made with ornately carved wooden balconies and shutters with bright colours. Further on we pass the ‘le col de tapia’, a type of tree resistant to the bush fires of the area. The landscape is still dominated by rice fields, pine and eucalyptus trees and rocky mountains. Onward to stunning Ranomafana National Park.
Parc National de Ranomafana (approximately 40,000ha), with its rain forested hills and abundant wildlife, has long been considered one of Madagascar’s highlights, and is one of the most heavily visited of the country’s national parks. Its entrance lies about 7km from Ranomafana village. In addition to its densely forested hills, Ranomafana’s terrain is characterised by numerous small streams, which plummet down to the beautiful Namorona River. Although much of the region has been logged, the easternmost part of the park retains relatively large areas of primary forest. We will go for walks in the National Park for several hours spotting some of the lemurs, chameleons and other animals.
We leave Ranomafana using the road that you entered on, and pass Fianarantsoa ‘the city where one learns good things’. It is the gate to the South and the capital of the Betsileo tribes. Then we head southwards, your first stop is in Ambalavao to visit a wine industry for wine tasting. Still in Ambalavao, visit the ‘Anteimoro Paper Factory’ a vestige of the Arabian civilisation in the island. Continue to Ihosy, the capital of the Bara tribes, who are the shepherds of Zebu. Along the way, we see from afar a spectacular huge granite dome with twin rock towers called: ‘the gate of the south’, which marks the end of the highland and the beginning of the south.
Visit to Isalo National Park. The park covers an area of 81 540 ha comprising the entire stretch of the Isalo massif. Walk to the ‘Natural swimming pool’. After a 10-minute drive from Ranohira village you'll walk about 1½ hours to reach the Natural Swimming Pool. Walk through the eroded mountains where the Bara people place their dead before they can be interned into their final resting place. Along the way, for lemur lovers, there may be sifakas, brown lemurs and ringtailed lemurs, as well as fifty-five species of birds, lizards and snakes. Finally reaching the swimming pool, with its crystal clear water. A great reward after your trek.
After breakfast, continue to Tuléar at the end of National Road N° 7. Admire some different scenery - the dry forests of the west and the spiny desert of the south. En-route see the fascinating ‘Mahafaly Tombs’ and the ‘Antandroy Tombs’. After a short visit of Tuléar we drive to Ifaty, which lies about 27 km from Tuléar. Due to the bad condition of the road it will take about 2½ hours to reach Ifaty which brings we to the driest part of the country. Situated in the deep south, the landscape is dominated by the spiny forest cacti, Baobab trees and thorn-bushes. Mangrove trees line the coast alternated by Vezo villages, the locals earn their living from fishing and there are many small pirogues (small traditional fishing boats) lining the coast.
Day at leisure. Ifaty, being a beachside town is an ideal place for diving, snorkelling and is also a popular destination for birdwatchers. This is a great opportunity to experience the Vezo Fishermen's life. Many excursions are possible. Visit the ‘Reserve Domergue’, a communal reserve where you can see two species of baobabs, spiny bush, reptiles like ‘Boa Madagascariensis, geckos and Parson's Chameleon (Calumma Parsonii). Take a boat trip to see the whales. From July to mid September, whales come to the cool sea off Madagascar to give birth to their young. This is a spectacular experience and it is possible to see the whales up close by taking a boat trip.
Early in the morning around 6h00, transfer to the airport for your flight back to Tana (Please note the price does not include cost of internal flight Tulear - Antananariva approx Euro 190. This should be booked in conjunction with international flight). Check in at your hotel and enjoy a free afternoon. Overnight- Hotel Carlton
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.